& cplSiteName &

FCC VoIP Ruling Bound to Disappoint Someone

Carol Wilson
11/18/2013
50%
50%

Tom Wheeler is showing willingness to wade right into things as the new FCC chair, but there's one pot he doesn't have to stir. The telecom industry is already in hot debate over the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) 's plans to consider changing how voice services should be regulated in the IP era, an action that could have far reaching impact.

The discussion is part of the broader debate over the IP transition and the ongoing role of regulation. Not surprisingly, incumbents are arguing for less regulation in the new all-IP world, while competitors say they still need some rules and requirements to ensure they still have access to customers and the right to interconnect to the "new" public network.

Big division
On one side of the argument are some over-the-top VoIP providers and incumbents, notably AT&T Inc. (NYSE: T), who are arguing that FCC should continue treating VoIP as it has since the days when Michael Powell chaired the commission, and deemed this new-fangled way of delivering voice to be an information service, not needing regulation, as opposed to a Title II voice service. On the other side are other incumbents, such as rural telcos, and competitive exchange carriers (CLECs), who say AT&T, Verizon Communications Inc. (NYSE: VZ), and others are looking for a way around rules that require interconnection for competitive reasons, as well as other regulation.

The rural carriers, led by the NTCA - The Rural Broadband Association , want the FCC to make sure they continue to be reimbursed for carrying VoIP traffic on their networks, as they are today for terminating TDM voice calls.

Mixed into this debate is an FCC trial, being conducted with Vonage Holdings Corp. (NYSE: VG), which would give OTT VoIP providers access to phone numbers, without being registered as a CLEC.

Taken as a whole, the FCC ruling on VoIP has the potential to reshape the competitive services landscape, and set a future course for the FCC as a regulator of Internet-based services. One concern for the anti-regulatory folks is that the current FCC, controlled by Democrats, is more likely to try to carve out a regulatory position for the commission going forward than previous commissions. But any attempt to create new powers will immediately be challenged in court, and take some time to be put into effect.

If the FCC requires the same kinds of interconnection required now, it will be bringing TDM inefficiencies to the IP world, argues AT&T, which first filed a petition with the FCC a year ago, asking that the agency review how regulations should change in the move away from TDM and toward all-IP networks.

AT&T has 5,000 different interconnection agreements in the TDM world, Bob Quinn, SVP, Federal Regulatory, said at the TIA Future of the Network Conference in October, and under existing voice rules, competitors can require AT&T to provide interconnection in any LATA, or local access and transport area, a designation that doesn't exist in the IP world.

Those rules don't apply to wireless carriers, to cable companies or to VoIP providers, Quinn argued.

CLECs cry foul
For their part, CLECs point out that most of them grew up in the all-IP world, or got there well ahead of their incumbent telco counterparts. Instead of looking for TDM-era regulations, they want a "backstop" against the continuing market power of big incumbents such as AT&T and Verizon, to keep from being frozen out of the markets to which they currently have access.

Two CLEC executives -- Kristie Ince, VP of regulatory affairs for tw telecom inc. (Nasdaq: TWTC), and Lisa Youngers, VP of federal affairs for XO Communications Inc. , -- engaged in the same debate with Quinn at the TIA conference, and view AT&T and Verizon as companies who still wield considerable market power. They want the FCC to require good-faith negotiations over interconnection in the IP world and not a regulatory clean slate.

The problem with the "backstop" approach, said David Young, VP of public policy at Verizon, is that any retention of old rules also involves 50 different state regulators, since they can control voice services, and that will impede moving to IP efficiencies.

What AT&T and Verizon are pushing for are trials of an all-IP voice network, and that may be where the FCC lands to try to resolve the dispute. The trials would implement an all-IP solution without traditional voice regulations.

But whichever way this one goes, a big part of the telecom industry is likely to be unhappy.

— Carol Wilson, Editor-at-Large, Light Reading

(11)  | 
Comment  | 
Print  | 
Newest First  |  Oldest First  |  Threaded View        ADD A COMMENT
Page 1 / 2   >   >>
sceptre00
50%
50%
sceptre00,
User Rank: Light Beer
2/18/2014 | 11:55:25 AM
voip philippines
Data encryption is the best defense against eavesdropping. One of the options and benefits of VoIP based telephony is the ability to encrypt the digital data that represents the voice stream. voip philippines
spc_isdnip
50%
50%
spc_isdnip,
User Rank: Lightning
11/19/2013 | 10:29:42 PM
Re: Post TDM World
Liz, if my grandfather had wheels, I'd be a trolley car.  Skype and the millions of other OTTs (all web sites, including LR, are OTT, after all) all depend on underlying networks.  The question is not what someone not in the wire-owning business would hypothetically do if they were monopoly wire owners, but what responsibilities apply to whom.

Wires should certainly be open. That predates MFJ, in fact -- MFJ just changed the stock ownership.  Computer II, in 1980, was the really crucial ruling that opened the networks.  But there is a bright line distinction between carriage and content. LR is not required to let others post their videos on it, or host their own blogs here. It's Internet.  ISPs should be given that flexibility -- but the underlying telecom, the carriage, should be separate and open. That way it's not just limited to "Internet", with its crappy "best efforts" (which means worst efforts), either.  Somebody could use the telecom to carry voice, video, music, etc., using optimized protocols.  But not when the only choice is best efforts IP or best efforts IP.
Liz Greenberg
50%
50%
Liz Greenberg,
User Rank: Light Sabre
11/19/2013 | 10:19:13 PM
Re: Post TDM World
@spc_isdnip you make good points but my point is that IF the shoe was on the other foot and Skype and other OTTs controlled the physical plant they would argue exactly the same way as AT&T and Verizon.  Comcast sits squarely between the two and could argue either way.  Physical plant - whether coaxial, copper, or fiber - simply carries traffic period.  It doesn't care what kind of traffic - voice, data, video, whatever. Therefore it is up to regulation to keep it available to all period - independent of the type of traffic. The FCC can make that happen to keep the channels open, profitable, and competitive as they have since the first MFJ in 1984.
spc_isdnip
50%
50%
spc_isdnip,
User Rank: Lightning
11/19/2013 | 7:23:21 PM
Re: Post TDM World
Liz, I think you're mixing apples and orange juice here.


Vonage and Skype are over-the-top providers.  They own no transmission facilities.  They depend on other ISPs to haul their bits.  So they can't block traffic per se, though in the case of Skype they don't interconnect with anyone except PSTN gateways from SkypeIn, and whoever they choose to allow SkypeOut to.


Comcast XFINITY Voice is just a PSTN provider, equivalent to Verizon and ATT. They own the wire and provide full-quality service.  It doesn't touch the Internet at all.  The user interface is an RJ-11 POTS jack.  So why is that more like Skype than like 1FR service?  Because they use an internal muxing header?


Internet is not PSTN.  It's information service, content of telecom.  It could never have happened as a regulated public network; it happened because Computer II required the LECs to let ISPs rent their lines, even though the LECs hated the Internet with a purple passion (what, no TOLL charges?! EVASION!)  Thus there was competition, no market power, and a flexible voluntary economic model developed.

Conflate PSTN with Interent and they both die.
Liz Greenberg
50%
50%
Liz Greenberg,
User Rank: Light Sabre
11/19/2013 | 7:01:59 PM
Re: Post TDM World
Sorry spc_isdnip but I think that you are splitting hairs on this.  If Vonage, Skype, Comcast or any other provider could block IP voice traffic for a monopoly they would do exactly the same thing.  PSTN becomes a term for all packet switched traffic as it is now so what is really needed is regulation that guarantees all packet switched traffic and interconnect, regardless of what type of traffic it is. 
spc_isdnip
50%
50%
spc_isdnip,
User Rank: Lightning
11/19/2013 | 5:41:34 PM
Re: Post TDM World
Liz, you have it backwards.  IP is merely a mulitplexing header.  It can be used for many things.  If it is used for the Internet or anohter information service, that's one thing.  If it's used to replace TDM on the PSTN, it's still the PSTN!  The PSTN has evolved from manual cord boards to rotary pulse to tone signaling to SS6 to SS7 without dropping its fundamental regulatory obligations, so why does IP become magic pixie dust that does away with protections against market dominance?

A good way to think of it is to separate what Vonage and Skype do over the Internet -- call that Voice Over IP (VoIP), from what PacketCable and the LECs do on managed (not Internet) bandwidth, offering full-quality PSTN service that just happens to use IP -- Call that Voice Using IP (VuIP).  They're utterly different.  Just because radios and computers both contain transistors, they aren't the same thing either.  The Bells are claiming otherwise as part of a relentless campaign to stuff out competition.
paulej
100%
0%
paulej,
User Rank: Lightning
11/19/2013 | 10:57:17 AM
Re: Post TDM World
It's a well-established fact that the TDM networks are going away. Heck, the carriers cannot even buy a new switch anymore, as far as I know.  Nortel is closed and I do not think Alcatel-Lucent still makes them.  What I hear is that telcos are moving equipment around when things break.

Service providers are now moving entirely to VoIP, though in some cases customers do not even know as it all happens in the back end.

Another important consideration that CLECs need to consider is that carriers no longer get the same level of revenue they used to get.  Who mays 10c/min for a phone call these days? I don't even have a landline and my mobile phone has unlimited calling.

I also use alternative services from around the web, including Skype, Spranto, Google Hangounts, etc.  So, while poeple are talking more, they are spending more of their time and minutes on alternative services.

I do not have the recpie for what rules should be made, but the fact is that consumer use and technologies are changing.  A change in rules is necessary.  If I had my hand in this, I would require the mobile phone carriers to interconnect and provide 911, but I would not require any other VoIP provider to do the same.  That sounds radical, but what would be the logic in requring Google Hangouts to interconnect or provide 911 service?  There is none.

And applications I install on my mobile phone (e.g., Skype and Spranto) should not be required to provide 911 service.  If I need that, that goes through the mobile operator.

For the traditional carriers, though, the whole voice business is evaporating.  Not only do they not earn much revenue on voice/video calls, it will continue to decline.  I think that's why there is a push toward the "unlimited" plans: they know there is no revenue in voice.  But that's OK.  The carriers are making up for that in data traffic.

One day, I might not even use my mobile phone carrier's voice service at all.  My use now is only a small fraction of the time I spend on "the phone."  For carriers to be forced into providing voice servce, versus just a pure data service, would be unfortunate, too.  I think they still view mobile voice service as valuable, but give it another 10 or 20 years and it might not be.  (And how many years have we been debating over these rules now? :-) )
DOShea
50%
50%
DOShea,
User Rank: Blogger
11/18/2013 | 10:45:43 PM
All-IP trials
Seems about time that the FCC would allow AT&T and Verizon to go ahead with their trials. It's at least an incremental step to gain more information, and continuing to do nothing won't do.
Liz Greenberg
50%
50%
Liz Greenberg,
User Rank: Light Sabre
11/18/2013 | 8:48:30 PM
Re: Post TDM World
Maybe ignorance is bliss but it seems to me that IP traffic is IP traffic and whatever rules apply should apply across the board independent of the content which in this case is real-time two-way voice/audio.  Maybe the rules need to make sure that carriers will interconnect period.
Carol Wilson
50%
50%
Carol Wilson,
User Rank: Blogger
11/18/2013 | 5:40:43 PM
Re: Post TDM World
Verizon and AT&T constantly remind folks that wireline voice is a diminishing business. What the CLECs are concerned about, however, is that in an unregulated worled, their managed voice services will be impacted if there is no regulatory authority to force the bigger carriers to interconnect. 

For a lot of reasons, TDM voice networks need to be phased out but I don't know which way the FCC will go or should go on whether there is any regulatory "incentive" to protect interconnection in the IP world. 
Page 1 / 2   >   >>
From The Founder
Kicking off BCE 2017, Light Reading founder Steve Saunders lays blame for NFV's slow ramp-up and urges telecom to return to old-fashioned standards building and interoperability.
Flash Poll
Live Streaming Video
Charting the CSP's Future
Six different communications service providers join to debate their visions of the future CSP, following a landmark presentation from AT&T on its massive virtualization efforts and a look back on where the telecom industry has been and where it's going from two industry veterans.
LRTV Custom TV
The Overall Objective Is to Win the Game

6|26|17   |     |   (0) comments


SCTE•ISBE's Chris Bastian discusses Energy 2020's success to date and the importance of a flexible approach that allows for changes in specific strategies in order to reach significant milestones.
LRTV Interviews
CenturyLink: Let's Get Past SD-WAN Hype

6|23|17   |   04:02   |   (0) comments


Technology becomes a "shiny object" unless it's properly focused on solving business needs for enterprise customers, says Bill Grubbs, network solutions architect for CenturyLink. He explains to Light Reading why SD-WAN deployments have to be tailored to specific needs – and more.
Women in Comms Introduction Videos
Infinera's Sales Director Paints Tech's Big Picture

6|21|17   |   4:14   |   (1) comment


Shannon Williams, Infinera's director of sales, shares how she achieves work's many balancing acts -- between her role and the broader company, today and tomorrow's tech and more.
LRTV Custom TV
SD-WAN Innovation & Trends

6|20|17   |     |   (0) comments


Versa CEO Kelly Ahuja discusses with Carol Wilson the current status and trends in the SD-WAN market, Versa's innovation around building a software platform with broad contextualization, and the advantages that startups can bring to the SD-WAN market.
LRTV Interviews
Ovum's Dario Talmesio on 5G in Europe

6|20|17   |   02:16   |   (0) comments


At 5G World 2017, Dario Talmesio, principal analyst and practice leader on Ovum's fixed and mobile telecoms European team, explains the emerging trends amongst European operators as they prepare for 5G.
LRTV Custom TV
Putting Power on a Pedestal

6|19|17   |     |   (0) comments


ARRIS's John Ulm says a major accomplishment of SCTE•ISBE's Energy 2020 program is increased focus on power cost and consumption, including inclusion of energy requirements in operators' RFPs and RFIs.
LRTV Custom TV
Gigabit Access: The Last-Mile Pipe for All Future Services

6|19|17   |     |   (0) comments


A Gigabit access platform being deployed today must be able to deliver all types of services to an increasing number of devices. A non-blocking architecture is necessary to support the ever-increasing growth in bandwidth demand. The Huawei Gigabit access solution is based on a distributed design that is fully scalable to deliver a unprecedented performance.
LRTV Custom TV
Key Factors to Successfully Deploy an SD-WAN Service

6|19|17   |     |   (0) comments


As service providers transition their SD-WAN solution from trials and limited deployments into production at large scale, there are important considerations to successfully operationalize these solutions and realize their full potential, without adding complexity, introducing uncertainty or disrupting current business operations. Sunil Khandekar, CEO and Founder ...
LRTV Custom TV
IoT Solutions: Rational Exuberance

6|19|17   |     |   (0) comments


IoT solutions are morphing from hype into viable business opportunities. Huawei has the platform and ecosystem support to help carriers successfully address new business opportunities in the IoT space.
LRTV Custom TV
Realizing ICN as a Network Slice for Mobile Data Distribution

6|19|17   |     |   (1) comment


Network slicing in 5G allows the potential introduction of new network architectures such as Information-centric Networks (ICN) as a slice, managed over a shared pool of compute, storage and bandwidth resource. Services over an ICN slice can benefit from many architectural features such as Name Based Networking, Security, Multicasting, Multi-homing, Mobility, ...
LRTV Interviews
Ovum's Mike Roberts on 5G Uptake

6|19|17   |   04:08   |   (0) comments


Mike Roberts, research director for Ovum's service provider markets group, explains why he has boosted his 5G subscriptions forecast.
LRTV Interviews
AT&T's Hubbard on Intersection of SD-WAN & MPLS

6|15|17   |     |   (0) comments


Rick Hubbard, SVP of Network Product Management for AT&T Business Solutions, discusses how AT&T's approach to SD-WAN fits in with its overall virtualization strategy, explains how SD-WAN can improve enterprise customers' use of the cloud and addresses the intersection of SD-WAN and MPLS.
Upcoming Live Events
October 18, 2017, Colorado Convention Center - Denver, CO
November 1, 2017, The Montcalm Marble Arch
November 1, 2017, The Montcalm Marble Arch
November 30, 2017, The Westin Times Square
All Upcoming Live Events
Infographics
With the mobile ecosystem becoming increasingly vulnerable to security threats, AdaptiveMobile has laid out some of the key considerations for the wireless community.
Hot Topics
Netflix's Lesson in Culture Expectation Settings
Sarah Thomas, Director, Women in Comms, 6/21/2017
No Imagination: UK Chip Biz Goes Up for Sale
Iain Morris, News Editor, 6/22/2017
Kalanick Steps Down as Uber CEO
Sarah Thomas, Director, Women in Comms, 6/21/2017
Buy American: Will It Affect the Telecom Sector?
Dan Jones, Mobile Editor, 6/21/2017
Like Us on Facebook
Twitter Feed
BETWEEN THE CEOs - Executive Interviews
Following a recent board meeting, the New IP Agency (NIA) has a new strategy to help accelerate the adoption of NFV capabilities, explains the Agency's Founder and Secretary, Steve Saunders.
One of the nice bits of my job (other than the teeny tiny salary, obviously) is that I get to pick and choose who I interview for this slot on the Light Reading home ...
Animals with Phones
Live Digital Audio

Playing it safe can only get you so far. Sometimes the biggest bets have the biggest payouts, and that is true in your career as well. For this radio show, Caroline Chan, general manager of the 5G Infrastructure Division of the Network Platform Group at Intel, will share her own personal story of how she successfully took big bets to build a successful career, as well as offer advice on how you can do the same. We’ll cover everything from how to overcome fear and manage risk, how to be prepared for where technology is going in the future and how to structure your career in a way to ensure you keep progressing. Chan, a seasoned telecom veteran and effective risk taker herself, will also leave plenty of time to answer all your questions live on the air.